IBM and Sun Microsystems are looking to bring supercomputing into the "petaflop" era. The two IT giants will detail the specifics behind their new supercomputer systems to the audience attending the 2007 International Supercomputer Conference in Dresden, Germany, which kicks off June 26—two systems that promise to break the petaflop barrier in terms of performance. A petaflop equals 1 quadrillion calculations per second.
By contrast, IBM's Blue Gene/L system, which is installed at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., offers 280.6 teraflops, or 280.6 trillion calculations per second, and sits on top of the current Top 500 supercomputer list. Members of the ISC are expected to announce the updated Top 500 supercomputer list later this week, and Big Blue is expected to retain the top spot. James Staten, principal analyst for IT infrastructure and operations research at Forrester Research, saw an early demonstration of Sun's new supercomputer—the Constellation—and called the new system "an impressive, very powerful system."